Environmental Focus Farm shows productivity benefits | Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Environmental Focus Farm shows productivity benefits

A Beef + Lamb New Zealand Focus Farm programme on Awakino’s Onetai Station is seeking solutions to the environmental and productivity challenges facing many hill country farmers.
Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The 1450ha (891ha effective) Awakino farm is B+LNZ’s Environmental Focus Farm and through the programme, the owners, Argentinian-based brothers Rafa and Frederico Grozovsky, and management team are striving to carry out extensive farm development while minimising their environmental footprint.

Project manager and Agribusiness Consultant, Erica van Reenen, says over the past three years, the team have gathered a significant amount of data around farm productivity, profitability and environmental performance. Throughout the project, the farm system has been monitored using Farmax and Overseer with real farm data.

The farm management team has also eradicated a large number of production-limiting pests (goats and deer), built several kilometres of fences to sub-divide blocks and protect riparian areas, installed a stock water reticulation scheme, improved soil fertility through applications of capital fertiliser and begun a re-grassing programme.

At a recent field day on Onetai, discussion around farm forestry was centred around site selection and the impact this has on returns. Malcolm Mackenzie of Waitomo Farm Forestry Association said generally, the better the site the better the returns.

Onetai has been used for Manuka honey production, generating very good returns for the business and this instigated debate around the virtues of retaining scrub – or even planting Manuka.

The farm has large wetland areas which Adrian Jepson, Waikato Regional Council, says act as kidneys for the farm and do a great job dealing with nutrients and sediment.\

One of the highlights of Onetai’s Focus Farm programme has been the modelling and assessment of greenhouse gas emissions in the context of the whole farm system. This has shown the benefits of lifting productivity.

“The areas we focus on in order to improve the performance of the farm system, such as improving the lambing percentage, growing animals faster and finishing more animals, actually reduces emissions per unit of product produced,” says Grant Rennie from AgResearch.

The Greenhouse Gas Farm Systems component of Onetai Station’s Environmental Focus Farm programme has been supported by New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, the wider programme has been supported by Waikato Regional Council and Farmax.

Other supporters include Crusader Meats, Farmlands, PGG Wrightson and Ravensdown.

The programme will run for at least another six months, with the hope of looking at the relationship between farm systems, climate and water quality using new technology.